Climate-Resistant Practices Key to the Future of Livestock – Food Tank

A recent heat wave across the Midwest has killed at least 2,000 cattle in Kansas feedlots from overheating. In response, livestock experts are considering climate-resilient strategies to protect producer herds.

two days of temperatures above 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), 40°C (104 degrees F) In Kansas for the last few weeks. A heat wave hit the southwestern part of the state, with the hottest temperatures affecting Haskell County, Kansas’ most cattle-producing county. Also, with nighttime temperatures hovering around 21.1 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) (the heat stress threshold for excessive heat-related mortality), cows are less relaxed in the evening. I did.

In this area of ​​low humidity and high winds, this is not normal,” Kansas Animal Husbandry Association spokeswoman Scarlett Haggins told Food Tank. exists, and cattle breeders explain that they take proactive measures to protect their animals.

Animals tolerate heat stress when they lose their thermoregulatory function. Temperature, humidity, solar radiation, and wind speed all affect animals.

Cows can generally tolerate high temperatures as their behavior changes above 26.7 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit), but the combination of humidity, heat and lack of wind makes the situation worse.according to University of Missouri100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) and 80% humidity are a lethal combination for cows.

The Kansas cows were ready for market, weighing about 680 kilograms and worth US$2,000 each, Hagins said.

of Kansas Animal Husbandry Association Kansas feedlots support 2.4 million cattle and report being the third largest cattle producing state in the nation. Producers suffered economic losses, but they were also affected by the loss of human life. “I’ve spent so much time caring for animals that the loss is a significant and emotional loss for anyone who has livestock,” Hagins tells Food Tank.

Philip Thornton, flagship leader and principal scientist at the International Livestock Institute, tells Food Tank that heat stress can affect animal welfare without causing death. High temperatures can also affect animal behavior, reduce fertility, make them more susceptible to disease, and impair milk production and weight gain.

Haggins said the cattle deaths in Kansas were unusual, but heat-related incidents could become more common as global temperatures rise. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)extreme heat events over several days are increasing in intensity and frequency.

“All domesticated livestock species are at risk of heat stress,” Thornton tells Food Tank. “Cows are generally at higher risk of heat stress,” he explains, with European breeds at higher risk than tropical breeds.

and study was announced in global change biology, Thornton and his colleagues conclude that heat stress will become “a serious challenge in cattle production systems as the century progresses.” They project that by the 2050s, some locations may not be fully capable of supporting large-scale livestock production without adaptation. This is important for milk and meat production.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock at least support people’s livelihoods. 1.3 billion people Globally. Unpreparedness for climate warming can threaten food security and the livelihoods of poor farming communities.

Low-income countries and tropical regions are particularly vulnerable to temperature changes. Rural areas that rely on subsistence farming and raising livestock may suffer from reduced labor capacity as the climate warms. “For livestock producers in low-income countries, heat stress reduces income, increases asset loss, reduces livelihood resilience, reduces dietary diversity and adversely affects food security,” Thornton said. I’m talking to Food Tank.

“For example, some farmers in Africa are switching from cows to more heat-tolerant goats, and some in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia are switching from cows to camels,” Thornton told Food Tank. .

Thornton says farmers can also integrate climate-resilient strategies into their production modes. Improved ventilation and cooling systems can raise energy costs, but ultimately work in very intensive systems. Shade, frequent animal bathing, and solar-powered fans are he one of the more cost-effective solutions. Feed additives such as betaine and chromium may also mitigate the effects of heat stress.

Special breeding is another solution to consider, Thornton tells Food Tank. “In the long term, we have the prospect of breeding animals that are more heat stress tolerant, perhaps through breeding programs.” But these approaches are expensive and can take years, he says.

“As the world warms, it is clear that heat stress in livestock, and for that matter in humans working outdoors, will become an increasingly difficult problem for farmers and policy makers,” Thornton told FoodTank. “In the long term, the most effective way to meet this challenge is to redouble our collective efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and comprehensively as possible.”

Articles like the one you just read are made possible by the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we expect you to join our growing movement? Click here to become a member now.

Photo courtesy: Priscilla du Prezunsplash

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *